Note: We've linked each title to its Amazon page so you may read other's reviews. These books are also available at the public libraries and great local bookstores such as Blue Willow Bookshop and Katy Budget Books.
Graphic novels fall into the comics category. Comics are usually published weekly or monthly. They are more like a magazine if they are individual or book format if it is an anthology. Need a visual? Think DC and Marvel comic books versus Garfield or a Calvin and Hobbes collection.
The graphic novel is more of a format than a genre. It is a medium through which a story is told- similar to the a film or painting. Drawings are intermixed with words in this medium to tell the story. A graphic novel will look like a comic book in a way. It will have the comic strip format or panels and will include text, images, word balloons and sound effects. Since it is longer than a comic book it will look more like a novel. Graphic novels can be fiction or nonfiction. Reading graphic novels can be beneficial since it requires readers to not only pay attention to the text but also understand and interpret the visual images.
Before I share a few titles, let me also throw in manga. Manga is a type of comic that is published in Japan but is popular in the United States. Manga includes many different genres and refers more to the style of cartooning used in the images. Many teenagers really like manga.
DROWNED CITY: HURRICANE KATRINA & NEW ORLEANS By Don Brown
The horrible tragedy of Hurricane Katrina is retold starting on the first day of the storm, August 29, 2005. The book is based on actual events and includes a bibliographical reference. Many readers will remember how 80% of New Orleans flooded and others can use this as a way to learn about a piece of history.
CARDBOARD by Dan TenNapel
It’s Cam’s birthday and his dad doesn’t have a job so Cam gets the worst gift ever: a cardboard box. However, this box is magical and turns Cam’s creation into a real person. The neighborhood bully, Marcus, steals Cam’s friend and uses him to cause trouble for everyone.
Dan TenNapel is also known for graphic novels titled GHOSTOPOPLIS and BAD ISLAND
SUNNY SIDE UP by Jennifer Holm
Due to a family crisis, vacation plans are suddenly changed for Sunny Lewin. She is now going to be spending the summer with her grandfather in Florida. Sunny thought this would be a fun trip, I mean Disney World is there, right? Sunny spends most of her time with all the old people who live in her grandfather’s retirement community. She does end up meeting one friend her age so her summer isn’t ruined. However, back home her family is dealing with her brother. Sunny’s not quite sure what the secret family crisis is but she sure would like to know.
Jennifer Holm is the author of many other books: BABYMOUSE series, TURTLE IN PARADISE, FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH and others. Her newest book FULL OF BEANS comes out in August. Jennifer will be one of the many guest authors at this year’s Tweens Read.
What is Tweens Read?
It is a free book conference in October (held in Houston!) where you can meet over twenty authors. All the authors will be talking about their latest books. It’s an event you don’t want to miss. It is geared for readers in grades 5 - 8. Teen Book Con, another free book festival is in April. It is aimed more for the older readers.
PAGE BY PAIGE by Laura Lee Gulledge
Sixteen year old, Paige Turner, is not happy about her family having to move to New York. She struggles to find out where she belongs in this new setting. A sketchbook becomes the place where she experiments with finding the identity she wants: artist.
WILL & WHIT, another good graphic novel, is also by Laura Lee Gulledge.
Remember the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, take that into consideration in regards to graphic novels. Don’t judge the book because it has pictures and looks like a comic book. Give the book a try!
Let me share a personal experience with judging a book by its cover. It was 2011 and LITTLE BLOG ON THE PRAIRIE was on the Texas Lone Star reading list but I couldn’t force myself to read it. I didn’t like the cover because it reminded me of the Little House on the Prairie series which I was never a fan of. Finally, a student begged me to read the book because she said she loved it. Well, after reading it, I realized I was wrong- I really enjoyed it!
LITTLE BLOG ON THE PRAIRIE by Cathleen Davitt Bell
Genevieve is not excited when her mother tells her family about this year’s fantastic summer vacation she has planned for them. They will be traveling to Wyoming where they will live like 1890 pioneers at a family frontier history camp. They will have to milk cows, feed the chickens and help clear the forest. No electricity or indoor plumbing will be available for them. All modern day technology has to be given up when they arrive. However, Genevieve sneaks in a cell phone and is able to text a friend back home. The friend takes the messages about secrets of the camp and starts a blog which gains a lot of attention from the media.
This would be considered a realistic fiction story which is the focus of next week’s blog. So before things get too real, consider escaping with a graphic novel.